MEMA director urges proper disaster planning

As the severe weather threat increased February 10, the National Weather Service placed the Pine Belt under a tornado watch.

"Tornado watch means conditions are favorable for tornado development, but does not necessarily mean that one is occurring," said meteorologist Robert Whitehurst.

Then the service issued tornado warnings.

"That is when people need to take immediate cover. It either means that the radar has indicated a tornado, or storm responders or emergency management has seen a tornado on the ground," said Whitehurst.

MEMA Executive Director Robert Latham encourages everyone to have a tornado plan.

"Do you know where you need to go? Does everyone in your family know? I believe after talking to people that were impacted by this storm that the things they did actually saved their life," said Latham.

Latham suggests this plan if you are home.

"If you are inside your home, number one, you get into the most interior place that you can get. Small hall, or maybe a closet, interior, put as many walls as possible between you and the outside of your home," said Latham.

Latham advices another safe place.

"A small bathroom. You don't want any windows close to you. Cover your head up, because a lot of people are injured as a result of fallen debris," said Latham.

If you live in a mobile home, Latham says you need to seek shelter somewhere else. He added unsubstantial structures usually don't survive, even if there is not a direct impact.

"I talked to one individual who actually gone out of his mobile home, crawled under his mobile home, held on to the axle of the mobile home, and his mobile home was totally destroyed. When it was all said and done, he was laying on his back holding on to the axle looking up at the sky," said Latham.

Latham added a low lying area is the best place to take shelter if you find yourself outdoors.

"If you are at the mall, a baseball field, a sports complex, or just outside or in a car, obviously if you are driving down a road, you don't have anywhere to get, then you pull over and get in a ditch. You know, just somewhere low, below as possible," said Latham.

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